Why Breaking the Bank on Cristiano Ronaldo Is a Waste for Manchester United

Adrian MelvilleFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid salutes the crowd at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5, 2013 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Shortly after his match-winning goal knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League, rumors began to swirl about the Portuguese superstar making a return to Old Trafford.

Ronaldo has always expressed an affinity for Manchester United, and particularly Alex Ferguson, so the rumors are not baseless. But looking at where both clubs stand, both financially and on the field, a transfer would not appear to be a wise move for either club at this point in time.

The cause for these Ronaldo rumors seems to be rooted more in marketing than anything else. Nike, a sponsor of Ronaldo, as well as Manchester United, must cringe at the sight of Ronaldo wearing all Adidas gear week after week with one of the most followed clubs in the world.

Meanwhile, an American sponsor like Chevrolet would love to have an iconic superstar to grow its international brand. These companies likely believe that there is no price too high for Ronaldo, but at the same time those companies are not directly responsible for Ronaldo’s salary.

On the field, there is never a case where having Ronaldo actually hinders your team’s chances of success. But with new financial rules in place, particularly within the Premier League, signing Ronaldo would only deepen United’s already tenuous financial situation.

And yet even though Ronaldo makes plenty of money, he can make a sound case that he is actually underpaid. In Marca’s study of the ten richest players, Ronaldo finished 10th . He sat behind Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, and potential teammate Wayne Rooney. So if Ronaldo were to move away from a club that already adores him, a raise in salary would almost have to come into play.

And finally, there is the Alex Ferguson factor. Nobody truly knows how much longer Sir Alex will remain at Old Trafford, but for Ronaldo to return there is probably a very short list of other managers that he would enjoy playing for.

At 71, Ferguson could still play a mentoring role in Ronaldo’s career, but who knows for how much longer? To make matters worse, if Sir Alex did decide to step down, his successor would face the tough task of managing the personalities of Rooney, Ronaldo, and potentially Robin Van Persie as he gains more influence in the United locker room.

The concept of Ronaldo leaving is not completely without merit. He did express sadness at the beginning of the season, and, whether he admits it or not, being in the same league with Lionel Messi is taking some of the shine off of some of Ronaldo’s prime footballing years.

A move to Manchester United, or even Paris Saint Germain, would allow Ronaldo to truly become his own man and carve out his own legacy. But the truth is that there is no upward move for Ronaldo, only lateral ones. Whatever Ronaldo desires, whether it is money, players, or influence, he is already at a club that at the very least has shown a willingness to provide it all.